A longtime CBC journalist and editor who died after a random assault in Toronto is being remembered as an “exceptional story-teller.”
According to a CBC report, Michael Finlay died on Tuesday from “medical complications” following the attack.
Toronto police said the incident occurred on Jan. 24, at around 3:30 p.m., in the area of Danforth and Jones avenues.
Officers said the victim was walking along Danforth Avenue when he was assaulted by another man.
According to police, the victim fell to the ground and sustained serious injuries. Officers said the suspect fled the scene.
In a statement emailed to Global News on Wednesday, Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for the CBC, said Finlay will be remembered as an “exceptional story-teller, documentary-maker and editor.”
“He travelled the world producing radio documentaries for several programs but most notably for Sunday Morning,” the statement read. “If you worked on a documentary with Michael, you were experiencing the pinnacle of the craft.”
Thompson said Finlay was known for “knowing everything about every news story here at home and abroad.”
“He pushed journalists and producers to tell great stories and they knew he always had their back in the field,” the statement read. “Michael had strong convictions about writing, story and structure. Every reporter he ever worked with said their story was made better because of Michael.”
Finlay retired from the CBC in 2010 after 31 years with the company.
In a tweet, author and former journalist Jeffrey Dvorkin called Finlay “one of the greatest CBC radio documentary makers and foreign editor.”
Dvorkin told Global News he worked with Finlay at the CBC in the 1980s and 1990s, and was his manager.
“He was one of the great radio documentary makers ever,” he said. “He was just brilliant. He could also write like a dream.”
Dvorkin said Finlay had an “instinct” to produce great journalism.
“He was considered to be so reliable and so cogent that reporters and correspondents actually fought to get him to produce their stuff,” Dvorkin explained. “He was a kind of crusty curmudgeonly guy a little bit irascible, every newsroom has one, needs one – maybe not more than one – but he was just terrific.”
Dvorkin said Finlay was able to “separate himself from the story he was doing” to deliver good content to the audience.
“He was brilliant,” Dvorkin said. “What a great loss.”
At Gabby’s on Danforth Avenue, a table was laid in Finlay’s honour on Wednesday, with a reserved sign and the crossword.
Staff said he would come in most days around 2 p.m. to complete the crossword in their establishment as part of his daily routine. Finlay had been a regular at Gabby’s for more than 10 years.
Police are now searching for a man in his 20s, standing six feet tall with a slim build. He was seen wearing a red paper mask with flames on it, a black sweater and black pants.
Toronto police said the force is aware the victim “has since tragically passed away,” adding that the investigation is “ongoing.”
Police have released photos of a suspect wanted in connection with the incident.